Desanding apparatus and system
A desanding system has an elongated vessel that is tilted at a non-zero inclination angle. A fluid inlet at the vessel's upper end discharges a gas stream having entrained liquids and particulates and a fluid outlet into a freeboard portion formed adjacent an upper portion of the vessel above a gas/liquid interface formed below the fluid outlet. A belly storage portion is formed below the interface. The freeboard portion of the vessel has a freeboard cross-sectional area that diminishes along the interface from the fluid inlet to a fluid outlet spaced away from and lower than the fluid inlet. The cross-sectional are of the freeboard portion causes precipitation of the entrained liquids and particulates therefrom and collect in the belly portion of the vessel. A desanded gas stream, being free of a substantial portion of the particulates is removed from the vessel through the fluid outlet.
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The present invention relates to a system and apparatus for the removal of particulates, such as sand, from fluid streams produced from a well, while minimizing abrasion of the involved equipment.BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Production from wells, in the oil and gas industry, often contains particulates such as sand. These particulates could be part of the formation from which the hydrocarbon is being produced, introduced particulates from hydraulic fracturing or fluid, loss material from drilling mud or fracturing fluids, or from a phase change of produced hydrocarbons caused by changing conditions at the wellbore (Asphalt or wax formation). As the particulates are produced, problems occur due to abrasion, and plugging of production equipment. In a typical startup, after stimulating a well by fracturing, the stimulated well may produce sand until the well has stabilized, often up to several months after production commences. Other wells may require extended use of a desander.
Erosion of the production equipment is severe enough to cause catastrophic failure. High fluid stream velocities are typical and are even purposefully designed for elutriating particles up the well and to the surface. An erosive failure of this nature can become a serious safety and environmental issue for the well operator. A failure, such as a breach of high pressure piping or equipment, releases uncontrolled high velocity flow of fluid which is hazardous to service personnel. Releasing such fluid to the environment is damaging to the environment resulting in expensive cleanup and loss of production. Repair costs are also high.
In all cases, retention of particulates contaminates surface equipment and the produced fluids, and impairs the normal operation of the oil and gas gathering systems and process facilities.
In one prior art system, a pressurized tank (“P-Tank”) is placed on the wellsite and the well is allowed to produce fluid and particulates. The fluid stream is produced from a wellhead and into a P-Tank until sand production ceases. The large size of the P-Tank usually restricts the maximum operating pressure of the vessel to something in the order of 1,000-2,100 kPa. In the case of a gas well, this requires some pressure control to be placed on the well to protect the P-Tank. Further, for a gas well, a pressure reduction usually is associated with an increase in gas velocity which in turn makes sand-laden wellhead effluent much more abrasive. Another problem associated with this type of desanding technique is that it is only a temporary solution. If the well continues to make sand, the solution becomes prohibitively expensive. In most situations with this kind of temporary solution, the gas vapors are not conserved and sold as a commercial product.
An alternate, known prior art system includes employing filters to remove particulates. A common design is to have a number of fiber-mesh filter bags placed inside a pressure vessel. The density of the filter bag fiber-mesh is matched to the anticipated size of the particulates. However, filter bags are generally not effective in the removal of particulates in a multiphase condition. Usually, multiphase flow in the oil and gas operations is unstable. Large slugs of fluid followed by a gas mist are common. In these cases, the fiber bags become a cause for a pressure drop and often fail due to the liquid flow therethrough. Due to the high chance of failure, filter bags may not be trusted to remove particulates in critical applications or where the flow parameters of a well are unknown. An additional problem with filter bags in most jurisdictions, is the cost associated with disposal. The fiber-mesh filter bags are considered to be contaminated with hydrocarbons and must be disposed of in accordance to local environmental regulation.
In Canadian Patent Number 2,433,741, issued Feb. 3, 2004 and in Canadian Patent Number 2,407,554, issued Jun. 20, 2006, both assigned to the Applicant, a desander is disclosed having an elongate, horizontal vessel having an inlet at one end and an outlet at the other end, the outlet separated from the inlet by a downcomer flow barrier, such as a weir, adjacent the vessel's outlet or exit. The weir forms, and maintains, an upper freeboard portion having a cross-sectional area which is greater that of the field piping from whence the fluid stream emanates for encouraging water and particulates to fall out of the freeboard portion. Water and particulates accumulate along a belly portion. The accumulation of particulates is along a substantial length of the elongate vessel increasing the difficulty of periodic manual removal of such accumulating using scraper rods and the like.
While Applicant has substantially maintained their elongated horizontal design virtually unchanged over the past 8 years or so, there has been a desire to improve the ease with which the vessel can be cleaned and further improvement in separation efficiency. Further, due to the nature of the gases handled, including pressure and toxicity, all vessels and pressure piping must be manufactured and approved by appropriate boiler and pressure vessel safety authorities.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Desanding apparatus is provided which is placed adjacent to a well's wellhead for intercepting a fluid stream flow before prior to entry to equipment including piping, separators, valves, chokes and downstream equipment. The fluid stream can contain a variety of phases including liquid, gas and solids. In one embodiment, a pressure vessel is inserted in the flowstream by insertion into high velocity field piping extending from the wellhead. The vessel contains an upper freeboard portion having a cross-sectional area which is greater that of the field piping from whence the fluid stream emanates. As a result, fluid stream velocity drops and particulates cannot be maintained in suspension. The freeboard portion is maintained through control of the angle of the desander, obviating the need for a downcomer of Applicant's own prior art horizontal desanders.
In a broad aspect, a desanding system receives a gas stream containing entrained liquid and particulates. The system comprises a vessel, elongated along a longitudinal axis and inclined from a horizontal at a non-zero inclination angle. The vessel has a fluid inlet, adjacent an upper end for discharging the gas stream into the vessel at an inlet velocity, and a fluid outlet, spaced along the longitudinal axis from, and lower than, the fluid inlet.
The vessel further has a gas/liquid interface at the fluid outlet, a belly storage portion formed below the interface, and a freeboard portion formed adjacent an upper portion of the vessel above the interface. The freeboard portion has a freeboard cross-sectional area which diminishes from the fluid inlet to the fluid outlet, wherein a freeboard velocity, adjacent the fluid inlet is less than the inlet velocity, the freeboard velocity being such that the entrained liquids and particulates fall out of the gas stream for collecting in the belly storage portion. A desanded gas stream flows out of the freeboard portion and out the fluid outlet, being free of a substantial portion of the particulates.
More preferably, a vessel of an embodiment of the present invention is incorporated in a desanding system to replace existing prior connective piping for a wellhead, the vessel being supported using structure to align the vessel with the wellhead piping and downstream equipment. The desander's fluid inlet and fluid outlet, associated with the inclined world of the desander, are adapted to connect to the orthogonal world of the connective piping.
In another broad aspect, a method for desanding a fluid stream, emanating from a wellhead and containing gas and entrained liquid and particulates, comprises providing an elongated vessel having a longitudinal axis which is inclined from the horizontal. The vessel has a fluid inlet adjacent an first end of the vessel and a fluid outlet spaced along the longitudinal axis from the fluid inlet; inclining the vessel at angle from a horizontal at a non-zero inclination angle so that the fluid outlet is lower that the fluid inlet for forming a freeboard portion above the fluid outlet. The fluid stream is discharging from the fluid inlet, into the vessel and substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis for establishing a liquid interface in a belly portion of the vessel, the belly portion and being formed below the fluid outlet. Liquid and particulates are being directed along a trajectory in the freeboard portion of the vessel to intercept a substantial portion of the particulates at the liquid interface for storage in the belly portion. A desanded gas stream is recovered at the fluid outlet which is substantially free of particulates.
The inlet can be parallel or non-parallel with the longitudinal axis for enabling a trajectory to intercept the gas/liquid interface. The fluid stream can be introduced through a replaceable nozzle. The fluid inlet can be curved to align the inlet from the inclined desander and orthogonal piping from a wellhead.
A desander is typically inserted between or as a replacement for existing piping such as connecting piping between a wellhead and downstream equipment such as multiphase separators.
As shown in
As shown in
As shown in
The interface 32 is a generally obround, gas/liquid interface between the belly and freeboard portions 40,44. The obround interface 32 has a distal end 33 adjacent the fluid outlet 26 and a proximal end 34, the location of which is intermediate the fluid outlet 26 and fluid inlet 24 and varies with liquid level and inclination angle α. As a result of the desander 20 inclination, the trajectory of the fluid stream F, from inlet 24, converges with the interface 32. The trajectory for dropping sand S and liquid L into the belly portion 40 is foreshortened, reducing drop out time. The vessel 22 is long enough to space the fluid inlet 24 sufficiently from the interface 32 to minimize turbulence of the liquid L in the belly portion 40, that spacing being dependent upon various design factors including vessel inclination angle α, inlet fluid stream velocity and characteristics.
At a steady state, the maximum level of the interface 32, is controlled at the distal end 33, set by eventual liquid entrainment and discharge at the fluid outlet 26. Gas G discharges at the fluid outlet 26. At steady state, when the liquid level reaches the fluid outlet 26, any oil and other liquids are re-entrained with the gas G exiting at fluid outlet 26. Particulates S continue to be captured in the belly portion 40 until its volumetric capacity is reached.
Connective piping 46, between conventional wellhead and downstream equipment, is typically in rectilinear or orthogonal arrangements. Thus, the angle α of the desander 20 introduces coupling or connection challenges. The connective piping 46 is generally horizontal or vertical and incorporation of the inclined desander 20 requires an adjustment made at the fluid inlet 24 and fluid outlet 26. In many scenarios, with a small inclination angle α, the fluid outlet 26 can be fit to the top 28 of the vessel 22 at angle α, orienting the outlet 26 vertically and thereby obviating the need for an angular transition.
Velocity in the freeboard portion 44 increases after a substantial portion of the particulates S have already deposited in the belly portion 40. The cross-sectional area of the belly portion 40 increases towards the fluid outlet 26 and the velocity of liquids accumulating therein diminishes.
With reference again to
With reference to
Inclination angles α can be adjusted, for a given length of vessel 22, between fluid inlet 24 and fluid outlet 26, to accommodate gas G and liquid L content in the feed fluid stream F. Inclination angles α would generally be in the range of about 2 degrees to about 20 degrees. The shallowest operating angle α is limited by the minimum requirement for a minimum freeboard 44 cross-sectional area adjacent the inlet 24 once the interface 32 builds to about the fluid outlet 26. The steepest operating angle α is limited by the requirement for a minimum storage capacity in the belly portion 40. The minimum inclination angle would be the condition where the inlet 24 is entirely in the gas phase of the freeboard portion 44 and the gas phase at the discharge is of zero height. The maximum inclination angle would be the condition where the inlet 24 is well above the gas/liquid interface allowing substantial freeboard to handle slug flow. Angles above 45 degrees limit the performance of desander considerably since the residence time of the liquid phase in the belly portion 40 is reduced.
With reference to
To maximize service life, the nozzle 50 can incorporate a curved portion 51, such as a long radius elbow, transition between the orthogonal world of the connecting piping and the inclined axis A of the vessel 22. That curved portion 51 can be integrated with the inlet 24, nozzle 50 or located in advance thereof, such as in a transition pup joint.
In operation, various sizes are desanders are employed in the prior art for differing operational conditions. Prior art desanders 10, such as that described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,983,852 to Applicant, for different feed fluid streams F, might include one typical standard vessel 11 having a nominal 0.3 m (12 inch) diameter by 3.048 m (10 feet) long and another vessel 11 having 0.3 m (12 inch) diameter by 6.096 m (20 feet) long, both of which are fitted with a downcomer weir to set the freeboard portion.
Herein, in the inclined desander 20, the prior art downcomer flow barrier, such as a weir, can be eliminated by providing similar 0.3 m (12 inch) diameter vessels 22 and tilting the upper end 30 of the new desander 20 at about twice the prior art weir height so as to form the interface 32 at the fluid outlet 26. To mimic the minimum operating performance of the 3.048 m (10 feet) and 6.096 m (20 feet) prior art desanders, a 20 foot long inclined vessel 22 would only need to be inclined about ½ the angle α of the 10 foot long inclined vessel 22. Performance can be adjusted by varying the angle.
As shown in
As shown in
Removal of accumulated particulates is conducted periodically with the vessel 22 shut in, adjacent the inlet 24 and outlet 26, and depressurized. Conveniently, access can be through a pressure-rated access closure and port at the lower end 42, as the angle of repose and flow in the belly portion carries particulates thereto. A suitable closure is shown in
Further, the illustrated vessel 22 includes an eccentric end 64 at the lower end 42, to reduce the diameter of the vessel 22 downstream of the fluid outlet 26. Advantages of reducing the vessel diameter at the lower end 42 include adapting to a smaller, more easily manageable or standard form of clean out. As shown the cleanout is a pressure-rated closure 60 supported upon gantry 62. In this embodiment, a 36 inch vessel, having 33 inch internal diameter, is inclined at 4 degrees. The cylindrical portion of the vessel is about 20 feet long with a 3 foot long eccentric portion, reducing the diameter from 3 to about 18 inches for fitting an 18 inch clean out.
Conventional pressure safety valves and other gas phase related devices and instrumentation, not shown, are reliably located in the freeboard portion 44 between the fluid outlet 26 and the upper end 25.
1. A desanding system for receiving a gas stream containing entrained liquid and particulates comprising:
- a vessel elongated along a longitudinal axis and having a fluid inlet adjacent a first end of the vessel and a fluid outlet spaced along the longitudinal axis from the fluid inlet towards a second end of the vessel, said vessel being inclined from a horizontal at a non-zero inclination angle at all times during operation such that the fluid outlet is lower than the fluid inlet, the fluid inlet discharging the gas stream into the vessel at an inlet velocity, the gas stream travelling down the inclined vessel to the fluid outlet the vessel having:
- a gas/liquid interface formed at the fluid outlet having a belly storage portion formed therebelow and a freeboard portion formed adjacent an upper portion of the vessel above the interface, the freeboard portion having a freeboard cross-sectional area which diminishes along the inclined vessel from the fluid inlet to the fluid outlet; and
- the freeboard portion at the fluid inlet causing the gas stream to have a freeboard velocity adjacent the fluid inlet which is less than the velocity of the fluid in the inlet, wherein
- the freeboard velocity is such that the entrained liquids and particulates fall out of the gas stream and collect in the belly storage portion, and
- wherein a desanded gas/liquid stream flows out of the freeboard portion and out the fluid outlet, being free of a substantial portion of the particulates, and particulates accumulate in the belly portion for flowing downvessel towards said second end.
2. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein fluid inlet has a discharge end, the discharge end oriented for discharging the gas stream into the freeboard portion.
3. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein discharge end of the fluid inlet directs the gas stream into the freeboard portion and parallel to the longitudinal axis.
4. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein the fluid inlet further comprises a replaceable nozzle having a discharge end oriented for discharging the gas stream into the freeboard portion.
5. The desanding system of claim 4 wherein the replaceable nozzle is connected to the fluid inlet at a flange.
6. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein the gas stream emanates from a wellhead and the fluid inlet further comprises:
- a discharge end for directing the gas stream into the freeboard portion and parallel to the longitudinal axis;
- a receiving end for receiving the gas stream and orthogonal to the wellhead.
7. The desanding system of claim 1 further comprising:
- a conduit for conducting a fluid stream containing entrained particulates from a wellhead, the conduit having a desander end; and
- wherein the fluid inlet further comprises a discharge end for directing the fluid stream into the freeboard portion and oriented parallel to the longitudinal axis, and a receiving end for receiving the gas stream and oriented orthogonal to the desander end.
8. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein the inclination angle is variable for varying fluid stream conditions.
9. A method for desanding a fluid stream emanating from a wellhead, the fluid stream containing gas, entrained liquid and particulates, the method comprising:
- providing an elongated vessel having a longitudinal axis, a fluid inlet adjacent a first end of the vessel and a fluid outlet spaced along the longitudinal axis from the fluid inlet;
- inclining the vessel at angle from horizontal at a non-zero inclination angle so that the fluid outlet is lower than the fluid inlet for forming a freeboard above the fluid outlet;
- discharging the fluid stream from the fluid inlet, into the inclined vessel and substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis for establishing a liquid interface in a belly portion of the vessel, the belly portion being formed below the fluid outlet, and directing the liquid and particulates along a trajectory in the freeboard portion of the vessel to intercept a substantial portion of the particulates at the liquid interface for storage in the belly portion; and
- recovering a desanded gas stream at the fluid outlet which is substantially free of particulates.
10. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein said gas/liquid interface is formed during operation, the gas/liquid interface extending horizontally from about the fluid outlet.
11. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein said the cross-section area of the freeboard portion is at its greatest adjacent the fluid inlet.
12. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein said inclination angle is between about 2 degrees and about 20 degrees.
13. The desanding system of claim 1 further comprising: an access closure at said second end for removal of accumulated particulates.
14. The desanding system of claim 1 wherein said vessel has a smaller diameter downstream of the fluid outlet than the diameter of other portion of the vessel.
15. The desanding system of claim 14 wherein second end of the vessel is an eccentric end.
16. The method of claim 9 further comprising:
- accumulating particulates in said belly portion; and
- periodically removing accumulated particulates.
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|8308959||November 13, 2012||Noles, Jr.|
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- PCT/CA2012/050915—International Search Report, 2012.
International Classification: B01D 50/00 (20060101);